Lasting relationships are based on many factors. They include many ups and downs, all around experiences, failures, and successes! You have to know what failure feels like to know what success is.
It hasn’t been an easy road, but we can laugh at the craziness that brought us together! I’m sharing the foundation of our relationship in tribute of our 40th Anniversary on December 9th. We married two days after Pearl Harbor Day’s Anniversary (December 7th) and joked that my husband would not forget our Anniversary when we get old! He’s a history fanatic! Are we there yet, old? Nope! Last week was Veteran’s Day, and that’s a reminder of where our love story began.
This love story started with America’s veterans. My husband, Al graduated from high school in 1965.
It was a time when America had a draft for men in the military. Most men were drafted. Others enlisted before or immediately after receiving draft papers.
There was a classification system for the draft. If men attended a University that was considered a level one. A classification of 2-S was trade school. Al was attending trade school. When he stopped attending classes he lost his classification of 2-S and became a 1-A , qualifying for draft. He was drafted within two weeks.
Once drafted, he had 30 days to enlist in any branch of military. If he did not he was automatically drafted into the Army. He attempted to enlist in the Air Force, but allegedly failed the eye exam. Immediately following this failure he walked over to Navy recruiters and joined the Navy.
He regrets not joining the military immediately following high school graduation during the Vietnam Conflict. He felt he wasted a year in Trade School pursuing education in mechanical engineering with a goal to become a draftsman. I remind him every experience in life accumulates and makes the person he is today.
That year in trade school may have saved his life! Men were dying and permanently injured all the time during Vietnam conflict. He like many others, lost many friends and Americans were being injured, returning to homeland without help or support.
U.S. Navy enlistees was at capacity and he did not leave for boot camp until April 27, 1966. His dad took him to bus station in Alliance, Ohio. Bus departed Alliance with arrival in Cleveland, Ohio. From Cleveland, Ohio he took a train into Chicago, and transferred into Great Lakes, Illinois where the United States Naval Training Center was located. This is where he became a sailor in the U.S. Navy.
After boot camp he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia on the USS Okinawa and soon stationed on USS Ashland. While on the USS Ashland he had several jobs. One of his favorite were in the scullery. Trays were dropped off, stacked and sent through the dishwasher.
It was his job to rinse, clean, and load dishwasher. When this process was completed removal and racking clean dishes and utensils for the next meal was the final phase in this repetitious job. It was one of his favorite jobs in the military! When the process of dishwashing was done he was free to do what he liked!
Cleaning the deck was part of this job. Swabbing the deck, or cleaning the deck with a mop was the end of a routine task before leaving the kitchen or mess hall. He took his job seriously. One day another sailor began to walk on his wet deck! He yelled at him and he stopped in his tracks. A couple weeks went by before he met up with that sailor again.
That sailor was assigned to work with him. He remembered that other sailor well. It’s hard to believe a wet deck would have such a lasting impression on anyone! I’ll refer to my husband Al and the new sailor Mr. P. According to Al, Mr. P did not want to work with him.
Over the next three months they found they had a lot in common, both from Ohio. Al from Alliance and Mr. P from Cleveland. Mr. P hitch hiked frequently to Columbus, Ohio visiting his fiancee’. She was attending Ohio State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in nursing. After high school hey were engaged September 6, 1966, before she went off to college. Mr. P’s fiancee’ is my best friend and sister! Al was dating a woman in Alliance and hitch-hiked home when they were given leave.
Hitch hiking was common in military uniform. People frequently stopped and picked troops up and take them as close to their destination as possible. This was probably the most respect citizens provided to troops while serving during Vietnam conflict.
On one Al’s trips to Alliance he broke up with his girlfriend and became a single man! He vowed to be single for lifetime! After that heartbreak the remainder of his military enlistment focused on his loving family and friends.
Al and Mr. P were on the same Naval Ship until they decommissioned the USS Ashland. While on this ship they traveled around the world. They shared good times while stationed in Naples, Italy and traveled various places including: Rome and La Spezia, Italy.
Years later they share pictures of Trevia Fountain, Colosseum Forum, Circus Maximus, Spanish Steps and The Red Banjo. The Red Banjo was a nightclub owned by two Americans and one of their favorite places to visit! They traveled to Italy twice in 1969.
When the USS Ashland was decommissioned Al was stationed on the U.S.S. Chilton and Mr. P on U.S.S. Plymouth Rock. Al was only on the USS Chiltonabout a month when he was notified of “an early out”. Four years after joining the Navy in 1966 he was discharged January 1970. He is a proud Veteran!
May 23, 1970, Mr. P married his fiancee’ after long engagement of nearly 4 years (September 6, 1966). They courted a total 7 years. She completed her baccalaureate degree in nursing and was working as a registered nurse. Mr. P was discharged from the Navy later in year on October 3, 1970. They resided in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Mr. P’s fiancee’ and, now his new bride-wife is my sister, my best friend! While I knew Mr. P for several years, I did not know Al. We were both in their wedding party. Al was a groomsman and I was maid-of-honor. I heard many stories about him, but never gave it any further thought.
He was six years older than I and I never thought of romantic relationships or marriage. It just wasn’t my thing! I was still in high school and not seriously dating. The only thing I was serious about was my education and extracurricular activities. He pursued me, and I ignored him!
It gets better! If you are the partying type this may be too boring for you! Is honesty the best policy? Are cheap dates (inexpensive) fun?
- Baptism held abroad USS Ashland (wavy.com)
- Navy Replaces All Sailors With Overpaid Contractors To Cut Costs (duffelblog.com)
- Augusta veterans recount Vietnam experiences (chronicle.augusta.com)